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Luke 13:1-21

Overcoming Evil with Good

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • April 18, 2021

How do you interpret the trials of life? Do you find that your conclusions about trials strengthen or defeat you? Victory or defeat is often determined by how we interpret life’s trials.

Romans 12:21, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We will learn how to overcome evil with good as we look to Jesus’ teaching in Luke 13:1-21. From Jesus we will learn how to interpret the trials of life properly while guarding our hearts from the lies that seek to snag us so that we may overcome evil with the good fruit of our Christian faith.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Overcoming Evil with Good
Luke 13:1-21
April 18, 2021


ILLUS – What did I do to deserve this?

1. How do you interpret the trials of life?

2. Do you find that your conclusions about trials strengthen or defeat you?

3. Victory or defeat is often determined by how we interpret life’s trials.

Romans 12:21, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

4. Tonight, we will learn how to overcome evil with good as we look to Jesus’ teaching in Luke 13:1-21.

5. From Jesus we will learn how to interpret the trials of life properly while guarding our hearts from the lies that seek to snag us so that we may overcome evil with the good fruit of our Christian faith.

Luke 13:1-21

1. The last time we were together we noted that Jesus had been teaching a large crowd about how to live out one’s faith while living in this fallen world.

2. Now, at the beginning of Luke 13, it was reported to Jesus about some Galileans whose blood Pontius Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. (1)

3. Implied with the breaking news was a question, “Why did this happen?”

Transition – Jesus’ teaching gives us great insight into how to interpret trials and ultimately overcome evil with good. . .

I. Make Conclusions by Faith in God

• Pilate had a reputation for cruelty.
• The tensions between Pilate and the Jews were famous.
• You see, Pilate’s predecessors had acted respectfully towards the Jews and their beliefs.
• But Pilate placed Roman images and standards in Jerusalem proper.
o In response, a crowd of Jews marched to Caesarea where Pilate was residing to protest his disrespect of Israel’s holy city.
o Pilate ordered the Roman soldiers under his charge to surround the protesters and put them to death.
o Undaunted by Pilate’s threat, the Jews courageously laid down on the ground and bared their necks.
o Pilate was furious, but he relented and let them go.
• Later, Pilate took funds from the Temple treasury to pay for the construction of an aqueduct to supply Jerusalem with water.
o Again, riots ensued so Pilate suppressed the rioters by sending disguised soldiers armed with daggers into the crowd.
o When the soldiers were in place, the massacre began with many rioters and casual spectators suffering the same treacherous fate.
• Now, word reaches Jesus that Pilate did it again; he murdered some Galilean worshippers in the Temple and mixed their blood with their offerings to the Lord.

Transition – Why did this happen?

• When things like this happen, people often make conclusions that are wrong.
• We need to look at these assumptions so that we may make proper conclusions based on our faith in God.

A. Bad theology leads to wrong conclusions

1. What was their bad theology?

2. “Bad things only happen to people who deserve it.”

3. This conclusion is as old as the oldest book in the Bible, Job.

4. Job suffered terrible tragedies and his so-called friends insisted that the loss of his children, belongings, and health was due to sin in his life.

ILLUS – The tragic death of my friend’s wife. . .

5. When Jesus came upon a man who was born blind, His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” (John 9:2)
a. Notice His disciples had already decided that someone had sinned.
b. The only question they needed answered was, “Whodunnit?”
c. Jesus corrects their bad interpretation by correcting their bad theology.

John 9:3, Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

APPL – There are several reasons why it’s common for people to jump to this wrong conclusion.

• First, everyone has enough sin to “prove” this conclusion is “right.”
• Second, sometimes people confuse consequences with God’s punishment.

Proverbs 6:27-28, Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?

• The truth is, we need to have a biblical view of God’s heart for us so that we do not misinterpret life’s trials.

Psalm 103:8-14, The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.

6. A close associate to “Bad things only happen to people who deserve it” is “Bad things should not happen to good people.”

7. Meaning, if tragedy is the result of our sin, then every good thing is the result of our good deeds; we earned it!

ILLUS – A bad golf shot goes in the hole.

APPL – Many people believe that if they’ve been doing something good, then they should be protected from bad things happening to them.

ILLUS – Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-24)

8. Another way to frame this bad theology would be to ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people and why do good things happen to bad people?”

9. Jesus also answered this bad conclusion when He said. . .

Matthew 5:44-45, But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

APPL – You see, God is gracious to those who don’t deserve it and God extends mercy to those who don’t deserve it.

• The key is to understand that God is sovereign over all things.
• We currently live in a fallen world.
• All of us will die.
• And all of us will be held accountable for our choices in this life.
• Jesus’ answer is to repent and bear good fruit in keeping with repentance. (3, 5)

B. Bear good fruit in keeping with repentance

1. Jesus then told them a parable about a fig tree that had no fruit.

2. This parable speaks about bearing good fruit in keeping with repentance but also about the grace and patience of God as He waits for fruit to grow.

3. Israel is compared to a fig tree repeatedly in the Bible.

4. The fig tree in Jesus’ parable was covered with leaves so that it had the appearance of fruit, but there was none. What is Jesus’ point?

5. There in Jerusalem was the famous Temple that Herod the Great had built. They considered it one of the great wonders of the world.
a. There were more than 20,000 priests and Levites.
b. There were tens of thousands of rabbis.
c. There were daily sacrifices, the rising of smoke from the sacrifices filled the air and could be seen throughout Jerusalem.

6. But where was their heart after God?
a. The purpose of fig trees is to produce figs, not fig leaves.
b. Fig leaves are useless, just ask Adam and Eve.
c. You see, the Jews had the appearance of religion, but they didn’t have a love for God in their hearts.

7. The reality of Jesus’ parable of the fig tree is seen in what happens next in a synagogue on the Sabbath, which, by the way, is the last time Luke records Jesus teaching in a synagogue.

8. Jesus saw a woman who was bent over, stricken by an evil spirit for 18 long years.
a. Jesus respectfully calls her to Himself.
b. He gently speaks a word of deliverance and lays His hands on her as He spoke.
c. This daughter of Abraham is immediately healed and began praising God; delivered from the oppression of Satan.

9. But the synagogue ruler was furious with Jesus and the deliverance of the stricken woman because it happened on the Sabbath.
a. He rebukes the people saying there are six days to do work so if they want to be healed come back another day.
b. Basically, the synagogue ruler was saying, “God’s people can’t be healed in God’s house on God’s day.”

APPL – This is an example of a fig tree with no figs.

10. So Jesus corrects their bad theology and its application by revealing their hypocrisy.
a. In essence, Jesus was asking, “Why is it acceptable to untie and water a beast of burden on the Sabbath but not deliver or heal a person who is made in God’s image on the Sabbath?”
b. Jesus’ miracle answered that question once and for all.

Transition – John the Baptist’s words ring true now just as much as they did when he said. . .

Matthew 3:8, Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance

• So, to overcome evil with good we must make conclusions based on faith in God.
• And next. . .

II. Sanctify Christ as Lord of Our Hearts

• Jesus then gives two parables that follow along the same theme.
• By these parables Jesus explains that the good and the bad reside together in this present age.
• By faith, we understand that at the end of the age all accounts will be settled.
• Therefore, now is the time to walk by faith and draw near to God. . .

1 Peter 3:15, sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts

A. Beware of the birds which seek to nest

1. Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that grows up to become a tree so that even the birds of the air nest in its branches.

2. Mustard plants were never intended to grow to this degree and it was certainly not common for birds to nest in its branches.

3. But in another parable Jesus spoke of the evil one as birds which snatch away the Gospel. (Matthew 13:4, 19)

4. So this parable is warning that the kingdom of God will increase but the birds of the air will also come to make their nests.

5. In other words, even the kingdom of God, here on earth, will have within it those whose hearts are not after God.

6. They will grow up together but God knows those who are His and He will settle all accounts at the end of the age.

ILLUS – Billy Graham interview with Larry King.

Galatians 6:7-8, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

APPL – Jesus is calling us to have an authentic heart after God.

• Don’t let the birds of the air nest.
• Sanctify Christ as Lord of your heart.

B. Beware of the leaven which puffs up

1. The next parable has been interpreted two ways.

2. One interpretation is that it’s a wonderful picture of how the kingdom of God will start out insignificant but will spread and impact the whole world.

3. The problem with this interpretation is that Jesus is speaking to Jews and they would have interpreted leaven as a picture of sin.

4. Jesus also spoke of leaven as a picture of sin (Luke 12:1) and so did the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).

5. So the wheat which is used to make bread is a picture of the kingdom of God, of which the Church is a part.

6. Jesus is, therefore, giving a warning in advance so that no one is surprised when these things are revealed.

APPL – But some might say, “This seems to paint the kingdom of God in a negative light; that it’s not all good and wonderful.”

• It’s true that Jesus is painting a realistic picture of what we are experiencing now.
• The Church is the bride of Christ and the Lord is purifying His bride of her imperfections.
• He loves His bride so He is committed to purifying His Church.
• Therefore, Jesus gives warnings so that we are aware and careful; that we overcome evil with good and are not overcome by evil.

ILLUS – Three glasses of water

Romans 13:14, But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.


APPL – By God’s grace we can overcome evil with good.

• By faith in God we can overcome lies and make right conclusions when trials come.
• We can sanctify Christ as Lord of our hearts and make no provision for our flesh with regards to its lusts.
• Faith is our victory.

1 John 5:4, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Luke 13:1-21  NASB

1 Now on that very occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had [a]mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus responded and said to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans just because they have suffered this fate? 3 No, I tell you, but unless you [b]repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you think that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse [c]offenders than all the other people who live in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

6 And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. 7 And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Look! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree [d]without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, leave it alone for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; 9 and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”

10 Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And [e]there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a [f]sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent over double, and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” 13 And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she stood up straight again, and began glorifying God. 14 But the synagogue leader, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days during which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does each of you on the Sabbath not untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it away to water it? 16 And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for [g]eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this restraint on the Sabbath day?” 17 And as He said this, all His opponents were being [h]humiliated; and the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him.

18 So He was saying, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky nested in its branches.”

20 And again He said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like [i]leaven, which a woman took and hid in three [j]sata of flour until it was all leavened.”


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